The Disney hotel workers' fast and protest, organized by the UniteHere Local 11 union, brought out the big guns Thursday night. Anaheim Councilwoman Lorri Galloway spoke, again pledging her support to their cause. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez also put in an appearance, not missing the opportunity to connect with her voter base. A crowd of more than 100 picketers and protesters
stood behind the fasters–who were sitting in a row in front of the podium, red
ribbons around their right arms to signify their efforts.
Standing back from the scene was a small group of Disney security
guards and press people who've been watching since Tuesday with their earpieces
and walkie-talkies. Nestor
Valle, security area manager for Disney, has been there every night, smiling his wan smile and insisting he
only wants to keep things safe.
The crowd chanted, “¡Sí se puede!” before the speeches began, the sound amplified across the parking lot by the two
“This demonstration and fast is about one core issue: the issue of health care,” Sanchez said.
Washington, D.C., I was one of the people who said, 'Let's make health care
for everybody in the country. I was the only vote in Orange County for
health care for all people.'”
In the case of the Disney workers, stable health care represents the Holy Grail for
a union whose 2,000-plus members have gone to work without a contract
for two years, rather than accept Disney's pricey pay plan over their
free, union-controlled plan.
“Unfortunately, those who are against health care for all have stopped the process on us in Washington, DC.”
Still, Sanchez has high hopes that federal mediation will move the Disney debacle along.
have faith now that Disney has agreed and your very able negotiators
have agreed to go to federal mediation. . . . That is why I am out here
today: to send a message to Disney that we need to clear the table and
we need them to understand how important this issue of health care is.”
Some union leaders aren't as confident, suggesting federal
mediation is merely a way for Disney to move the spotlight off the
fasters currently camping in front of the Grand Californian Hotel.
There is one less faster, however, as Eddie Carrington, a laundry worker at the
Disneyland Hotel, had to drop out because of long-standing heath
problems. The remaining fasters report similar problems: dizziness, stomach pains, headaches. Seven of them slumped in chairs, two in wheelchairs, while the union leaders and politions spoke. Their eyes were red and puffy, looking as though they haven't been sleeping well in their tents on the sidewalk.
Richard Silva–who is fasting on behalf of his father, who was injuried
while working shipping and receiving in Disneyland–tried to stave off
the hunger by drinking more than four liters of Smart Water throughout Thursday. Kristi Richards' method is to avoid thinking about the hunger by simply keeping busy.
Also showing their support Thursday night were leaders and
members of at least a dozen unions. Among them were the Orange County
Federation of Labor, Teamsters Local 396 and 952, the American
Federation of Teachers, the United Health Care Workers, the American
Federation of Teachers, and the LA County Federation of Labor.
Tefere Gebre, executive director of the Orange County Federation of
Labor, declared that support for the protest went even farther than that.
“We are saying at the United Labor Movement, enough is enough, and we're 100 percent behind you,” said Gebre. “We're going join you in
the fight and continue to fight with you.”